Whether you're flying, road-tripping or enjoying a "staycation," don't let your utility bill usurp your vacation plans. Use these easy energy-saving tricks to add to your trip's fund:
- Take your cooking outdoors. It's the season for grilling, so why not take advantage? It's too hot to slave over a hot oven anyway. If you don't have a grill, turn to your microwave, which uses about two-thirds less energy than your stove and doesn't make your air conditioner work overtime.
- Cut the operating time of your pool's filter and automatic cleaning cycle to four or five hours, and only use it during off-peak time, and you'll save 1 to 2 percent per hour of reduction, according to California's Consumer Energy Center.
- Replace your air conditioner's filter every season, if not monthly.
- Give your dryer a break and line-dry whatever clothing you can. If you need to use the dryer, make sure you're doing a full load and clean the lint trap after every use.
- Turn up the dial on your thermostat so it's set to 77 or 78 degrees when you're home, and even higher—up to 83 or so—when you're not. Then take advantage of ceiling and portable fans to circulate more air for a cooler feel.
- If your air conditioner is an older model, it will pay to switch to a new, Energy Star-approved one. Not only will it be more effective at cooling your home, but you can also reduce energy consumption by 20 to 50 percent, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.